Air Travel Still Risky Despite Flights Returning To Schedule, Experts Say

By Harry Croton
Published: Tuesday, May 26, 2020 - 5:05am
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Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport is set to require all passengers and staff to wear face masks starting June 1, as airlines resume normal travel schedules.

But even with the added precautions, questions remain about the safety of commercial air travel amid the pandemic.

For people who rely on air travel for work and other necessities, the return to a fuller flight schedule is important.

But some experts say that for those merely looking to go on a vacation, now isn’t the time.

Dr. Shad Marvasti is the director of public health at the University of Arizona. He says the prevalence of the virus in the Valley is tough to gauge, making travel very risky.

“We don't know because of inadequate testing in general — we don't have widespread testing available," Marvasti said. "We don't really have an accurate picture of how spread this is given the fact that many people could be infected but be asymptomatic, or very minimally symptomatic.”

Passengers are advised to clean and sanitize surfaces as often as they can when they’re in the terminal and on the flight.

UA professor Paloma Beamer says to even book a window seat if possible, to reduce the chance of contact with other people.

“What your biggest concern needs to be is preventing your exposure to an infectious person, particularly somebody within six feet of you for an extended period of time," Beamer said.

The next two to three weeks will be crucial in determining how Arizona is affected by the increase in travel and the decrease in restrictions, with heat and virus prevalence acting as the key variables.

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